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Stress and Breast Cancer

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Topic: Stress and Breast Cancer
Posted By: 123Donna
Subject: Stress and Breast Cancer
Date Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 8:53pm
By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog

September 19, 2011, 1:47 p.m.

Could http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/behavioral-conditions/stress-HEBEC000014.topic - stress play a role in the development of http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/diseases-illnesses/breast-cancer-HEDAI0000012.topic - breast cancer ?

Researchers from the http://www.latimes.com/topic/education/colleges-universities/university-of-illinois-at-chicago-OREDU0000154.topic - University of Illinois at Chicago wondered about this. After all, the components of what experts call “psychosocial stress” – including fear, http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/symptoms/anxiety-HEISY00005.topic - anxiety and isolation – could take a toll on the autonomic nervous system, which helps regulate heart rate, respiration and other important bodily functions.

So they found 989 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous three months and asked them a lot of questions to assess their level of stress. It turned out that there was an association between stress and the disease – the women who scored highest for stress were more likely to have a more aggressive form of breast cancer.

More specifically, the researchers found that stressed women were 38% more likely to have http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/diseases-illnesses/cancer-HEDAI0000010.topic - cancers that were estrogen receptor-negative. These tumors do not respond to therapies aimed at cutting off estrogen, which means that drugs like http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/tamoxifen-%28drug%29-HEDAR00227.topic - Tamoxifen , raloxifene (Evista), Arimidex and others will not help. After taking into account things like the women’s age and the stage of their cancer when it was diagnosed, the women who were more stressed were still 22% more likely to have cancers that were estrogen receptor-negative.

The researchers also found that women with the most stress were 18% more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade tumors, which are more aggressive than low-grade tumors. However, when the study team accounted for age and cancer stage, the link disappeared.

In addition, breast cancer patients who were black or Latina had higher stress scores (on average) than patients who were white.

Of course, these results beg the question of whether the women with more aggressive cancers were already more stressed out before they were told they had breast cancer. It’s certainly plausible that getting a breast cancer diagnosis – especially if the tumor is aggressive – would make a previously calm woman feel more than a bit agitated.

In a presentation made Monday at the American Assn. for Cancer Research’s http://www.aacr.org/home/scientists/meetings--workshops/cancer-health-disparities.aspx - conference about health disparities and cancer , the research team acknowledged this problem. But for the sake of the study, they felt it was safe to assume that patients who were stressed when they were interviewed would also have been more stressed before they knew they were sick.

“It’s not clear what’s driving this association,” lead researcher http://www.cade.uic.edu/sphapps/faculty_profile/facultyprofile.asp?i=garthr - Garth Rauscher said in a statement. “It may be that the level of stress in these patients’ lives influenced tumor aggressiveness. It may be that being diagnosed with a more aggressive tumor, with a more worrisome diagnosis and more stressful treatments, influenced reports of stress. It may be that both of these are playing a role in the association. We don’t know the answer to that question.”

Copyright © 2011, http://www.latimes.com/ - Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-breast-cancer-stress-20110919%2c0%2c6194939.story - http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-breast-cancer-stress-20110919%2c0%2c6194939.story

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/234642.php - http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/234642.php


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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15




Replies:
Posted By: TNinTN
Date Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 10:21pm
Hi Donna,
 
Was there any doubt??? I know Susan's (and my) life was the most stressful ever during the five years preceding her diagnosis - lots of family sadness and problems that we both worried about constantly. I don't say this often enough, but thanks for your diligence in finding all this information for us.
 
Martin


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Wife age 53@dx TN IDC Stage IIA 7/10; BRCA1&2 Neg; BROCA Neg; LN Neg; taxol+cisplatin+/-RAD001x12(clinical trial); lumpectomy 12/10;ACx4; 33 Rads complete 4/11; NED 5/5/11


Posted By: mainsailset
Date Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 11:42pm
I'd like to send my first oncologist a copy of this since she was the one who, when I asked what role stress played in getting tnbc replied, stress is part of life and is good for us.
    And now Donna dear are you going to go get yourself a massage?

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dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 11:47pm
Ha, I wish and sure need it.  I've been stressed out all night after opening up a bill for outpatient therapy.  My insurance company approved 20 treatment but somehow I'm getting billed over $154 for one visit.  I'm having a panic attack that number will be multiplied times over 10 for the other visits.  I'll be calling the insurance dept tomorrow bright and early.  In the meantime, I'm popping an Ativan:)

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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: mainsailset
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:08am
Been there, done that, took weeks to peel me off the ceiling. I recently got billed $5,000 for a regular onc visit...I got billed for another mainsailset, of course we all need Phd's just to understand some of the bills & match them up. Knowing you you'll have them eating out of your hand by noon!

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dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear


Posted By: Ema
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:25am
Thanks for posting this Donna. I fully beleive stress was the reason that I came down with tnbc when I did. I had been takeing care of my husband for so long & did not have any time for myself.
I am doing the radiation now & it has not bothered me except for some soreness. My nails on the right hand are going to come off I think. Thank God I am off the chemo. Hope all is well with you. EmaBig smile


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 1:40am
Hi Ema,

Thanks for letting us know how you're doing.  The radiation can be bothersome towards the end and fatigue may increase for you, but it gets better once you're done.  How many more treatments do you have?

My mother took care of my dad with his COPD for many years and then he was on hospice for almost 3 years before he passed.  Right before he died she was diagnosed with a blockage in her heart and needed a stent then bypass surgery.  I think stress played a big impact on her medical problems too.

I truly believe stress wrecks havoc on our immune system and makes it weak allowing us to become ill.  I just haven't been too successful in eliminating my stress.  Just when I think I get a handle on things, more stress keeps falling at my feet.  I wish I could be more like my husband.  When he comes home he's able to just turn everything off.  It's like there's a switch in his brain that goes on standby.  I'm still looking for mine!  Switch, I mean, lol.

Donna


-------------
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: mainsailset
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 9:51am
Hi Emma, I lost fingernails and toenails too but as long as you keep the area clean they will come off easily and seem to grow back with no issues. It's disconcerting to say the least and just seems to be one more thing to add to your list.
 
I seem to see everyone here has had a monumental battle with stress before they were diagnosed and it's always a BIG stress, none of this bad hair day issues, but real life and death issues and it sounds like you certainly had yours. I'm sorry it's been a tough road for you. M


-------------
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear


Posted By: Craig76
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:46pm

I so agree with the link between cancer and stress.  Here is another story to add to this link off of science daily.  I know my friend was very, very stressed over things going on in her life for a better part of three years.  I truly believe that had a big part in her getting cancer.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920111818.htm - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920111818.htm
 
Craig


Posted By: denise07
Date Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 2:50pm
My onc says stress plays a big role in many diseases.

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DX Idc 10/07,st2,gr3,2/6 lymphnodes


Posted By: abcmom
Date Posted: Sep 23 2011 at 8:34pm
Well there ya go....I know I am under constant stress.  Stress can make a lot of things worse.  Go figure huh?  LOL!!  Donna, thank you so much for all your research and knowlege!  I feel like you "have our backs"...have a great weekend.
 
Hugs, Keri


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Diag 11/06/09 @ 40; Diag w/ TNBC Stage IIA, Grade 3 12/01/09 Node Neg. Dble MX with Recon 12/09 (twice)
Chemo 1/13/10 Chemo done 4/22/10 More recon surg 07/10, PET/CT Scan clear 07/10 NED 07/11


Posted By: Susie
Date Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 9:05am
Echoing other responses. I was under extreme stress before I was dx with TNBC. What worries me is I am still under constant stress. Does this mean my chance of recurrence is greater??


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dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED


Posted By: TNinTN
Date Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 9:45am
I don't know if there is any "proof" correlating stress and recurrence, but continued stress certainly can't help. Susan and I have taken some meditation classes at our local Cancer Support Community (which is a wonderful resource, by the way) and it has helped tremendously.

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Wife age 53@dx TN IDC Stage IIA 7/10; BRCA1&2 Neg; BROCA Neg; LN Neg; taxol+cisplatin+/-RAD001x12(clinical trial); lumpectomy 12/10;ACx4; 33 Rads complete 4/11; NED 5/5/11


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 11:19am
I think just having TNBC keeps you under constant stress.  I still have so much stress in my life and I'm working towards reducing it, just not fast enough.  It seems when I get one matter under control another pops up.  I've started a program with our local cancer support community and I'm enjoying it tremendously.  A little sore from the pilates class last week.  Mentally I wasn't willing to look into these types of classes/support groups until now. 

Donna


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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: Susie
Date Posted: Sep 25 2011 at 8:12am
My stress comes from financial stress and trying to support myself. A change in the economy would be such a relief. I sell real estate. TNBC has taken a backseat at the moment It is never out of mind. None the less ,stress and I sure don't want it to trigger a recurrence. I realize out of my control.....

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dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED


Posted By: cheeks
Date Posted: Sep 25 2011 at 10:55am
I also would agree with stress being a contributing factor to cancer - I was going through major depression during menopause 3-5 years prior to my diagnosis. I had also suffered major post-partum depression with both of my children - not just a little case of the "baby blues". We have wondered if some of the medications I was given for the depression didn't also contribute since we have read that SSRI's etc. can possibly affect the ducts. (I did experience some of that) in addition we feel strongly that some of the other meds they prescribed me contributed to my development of diabetes which in turn could relate to the "sugar" connection talked about in the Metformin studies.

 We have watched my dear MIL over the last 33 years have quite a few reoccurrences during times of high stress such as the death of her parents, siblings, and my FIL - divorces of her children, financial difficulties etc.  Her BC responded well to Tamoxifin when it hit the market (there was nothing available @ her diagnosis) She opted for no chemo or rads in 1978 but was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for about a month due to the radical procedures used at that time for mastectomy - (she had both breasts removed). Over the years she has had medication changes as new things have became available or side effects became too much. Most recently, (last 5 years) she was part of clinical trials for something else (can't remember the name- starts with an "A" - I think) and has opted to continue taking it daily past the recommended time - a pill form of chemo. 

I remain hopeful watching her journey that they will find more things for us. Big smile  Blair

Wife for 33 years and mother of two grown sons 


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Lump found 11/08
DX: 2/09 @52 TNBC
L. Mast. 3/26/09, SN-, BRCA-,
4.5 cm (post surgical)T2NOMO
Chemo: 4/09-10/09 Taxol x 12,
A/C x 4, No rad.No recon. NED 1/17. New Primary right breast TN, 2/2018.


Posted By: peachpoodle
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 12:01am
I am new to this site.  I completed all my therapy about 2 months ago (including 21 weeks of chemo including taxol, avastin, adriamycin etc plus surgery and radiation - 21 sessions).  I feel MORE depressed now then I did when I was undergoing therapy.  It's crazy - I feel so lost.
Regarding stress  I also was under a LOT of stress the year i was diagnosed (2010) (mostly job related but some personal stuff too).  I am convinced that is how i got sick.  cancer does not run in my family.  I kept my stress internalized (that was probably the worst thing to do), and my mental torture because of the fear of being diagnosed with TNBC all throughout my therapies I also kept to myself but I told myself this way I would be strong throughout my therapy.  Now that it is over (my tumor shrunk but did not disappear which was the goal of the clinical trial I was in) I feel like I am falling apart.......
.  I have now developed asthma (which i think is totally stress induced - and I know that stress can cause cancer to come back -or at least that is what i hear) - 
does anyone else feel the same way?  in about 2 weeks I will have seen my first year anniversary of being diagnosed......all i see is the abyss ahead of me - I am sorry to be so negative - I think I  need help.  Just wondering if anyone else finds themselves wondering what lies ahead and how do you deal with the depression and the fatigue that gets worse as time goes on - ...



Posted By: Debris
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 3:06am
Hello, PeachPoodle. So sorry you need to be here, but now that you are, welcome. This is the very place to be, when you are where you are. There is so much support, and very valuable knowledge and experience, to be found from other members. Your feelings are totally understandable, and you are not alone with them, any more. Folks will be along who can share their ways of handling this.

Life after treatment can seem to be such an anti-climax. After all the attention, and having someone regularly "seeing" you, it can feel like you are suddenly on your own. So, here is the place to feel safe to rant, rage, cry, and hopefully find a way to see the light, and as one of our valued members, Steve, always says, "Try to find the beauty in every day". (Sorry, Steve, for stealing your words!)

Good luck, take care.

Deborah



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4/12 Xeloda/Tykerb
2 Carboplatin
12/11 Dx IA
9 Gemzar/Taxotere Dx IBC:FEC
5 Ixempra/Sprycel
2 25 Rad
10/10 BRCA1-/2suv
9 NED
6 Stg4 Grd3 many nodes no Sx/Rad. Taxol/Avastin
06/08 Dx DCIS 0/SN Rads/AIs


Posted By: SagePatientAdvocates
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 6:28am
Dear Deborah,

I am trying to figure out how you write so beautifully in the middle of the night....but somehow you do, perhaps because life is so uncomplicated for you at the moment? Smile In all seriousness, what I marvel, marvel about you is your ability and willingness to reach out to others with your intelligence and beautiful, giving heart to others even as you go through a tough experience. You are truly a marvelous woman; words I do not use lightly. Thank you for being in our lives.

Yes, you swiped my words but as my children, raised in California, would say “it’s all good, Dad.”

A true “find the beauty in each day” story. A woman, who has been having a particularly tough time, woke me up the other day to tell me that she had been “looking for the beauty all day and all she had found was another day of pain and nausea” and that maybe I would like to rethink my advice. I mumbled that I hoped tomorrow would be better, but could not go back to sleep. An hour later phone rings...and the woman says “we had some thunderstorms here tonight” and my six year old granddaughter was very scared and she knew her mom and dad were asleep but saw my light on and came in and crawled into bed with me, snuggled in my arms, and said “Grammy, I love you” and then she instantly fell asleep....so I wanted you to know that I did find the beauty in today. I was so happy to hear that and I think I actually fell asleep with a smile on my lips.

all the best,

Steve




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I am a BRCA1+ grandson, son and father of women affected by breast/oc-my daughter inherited mutation from me, and at 36, was dx 2004 TNBC I am a volunteer patient advocate with SAGE Patient Advocates


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 7:47am
Peachpoodle,

Hello and welcome.  I think your sentiments have been felt by most of us to some degree.  I know I was under much stress prior to dx and internalized it also.  In my opinion we're in such a battle once we're diagnosed that all our focus is on fighting this beast.  Once we're done with treatment many of us suffer post traumatic stress.  It's like everything that we've kept suppress finally comes to the surface.  We're also left with wondering what's next and what do I do now?  For TNBC, we don't have adjuvant therapy like our ER+ bc sisters, so we're left with a feeling that we're not actively fighting it anymore.  Many breast cancer centers have psychologists that will help patients deal with their feelings.  Also some communities have cancer support programs to help survivors.  Please see if anything like this is available for you.  

At a lecture last night, I was told there is a high incidence of fatigue that sets in about 6 months after a woman finishes radiation tx.  Not sure why but it appears that many felt great after tx ended started experiencing fatigue symptoms later on.  Symptoms of fatigue can also go hand in hand with depression.

Donna


-------------
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: Charlene
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 9:12am
Peachpoodle,
My heart goes out to you.  I have been in the "dark hole," too and I think I understand some of what you are feeling.  I remember days of crying repeatedly at the drop of a hat.  I also know that probably doesn't help you much.  You said that you thought you needed help.  Maybe it would be good if you sought out a psychologist or support group like Donna suggested. 
 
A month or so ago, I came down with stomach virus.  I immediately thought, "This is it--this must be metastasis of my cancer."  Fortunately, it was gone in a day.  But, during the day that I was sick, I thought of how many of my "good health" days I had spent worrying and bordering on depression.  I made up my mind then that I would stop wasting whatever time I have left worrying about recurrence.   I want to live life and appreciate each day.  I recently listened to a program on Living Beyond Breast Cancer (lbbc.org) about fear of recurrence.  The doctor speaking suggested giving yourself 30 minutes a day to think about your fears, etc.  Then don't let yourself go there the other 23 1/2 hours.  I know that is much easier said than done.
 
I also felt that stress was related to my situation and then I felt anger for a long while because I thought I could have been diagnosed sooner.  But the past is past and all any of us can do now is move forward.
 
I wish you all the best,
Charlene
 


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DX 3/10 @59 ILC/TNBC
Stage 1, Grade 2, Multifocal; Lumpectomy/re-excision
SNB 0/4 nodes, BRCA-; Taxotere/Cytoxan X4, 30 rads
3/14:NED


Posted By: Annie
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 11:42am
Dear PeachPoodle,    I am so sorry you are feeling this way. You are not alone. It is understandable...Do not be concerned about crying...it is okay. I think crying is a really good release, do not feel bad about it when it happens...I will tell you what has helped me since you have asked...if it helps in any way that will be wonderful...Horribly, my husband left me shortly after my treatment, I had side effects of the radiation which go on until this day, four bouts of Cellulits of the lumpectomy breast and I am just finishing antibiotics again...I will be having a mastectomy due to this now chronic problem...my life is suspended in mid air, some days I feel so much grief, regret, and sadness. I do not know where, when or if I am even moving from my home which I love...nothing seems to be settling down...all of this has made me foget I had cancer...some days when I am so exhausted from the emotional I have to remind myself, hey you had cancer, you should get some rest, think about yourself...the only time I remember I had cancer is when I am in the Dr's office or having a bout of this infection...then I remember...I guess that has been a good thing for me. My oncologist says there is no proof that stress actually causes or brings cancer back...what do I do to help with all this pain, isolation, sadness, and grief is to look for the good and God in each day. He said he will never forsake or fail us...I am not sure if you are a believer but since you asked I am telling you what helps me...I see his hand in my life when I look for it...In the encouragement of the morning sun, the beauty of the fallen leaves, the encouragement from a nice song or word that rings out in that particular day,a call from a friend...I also at night and especially in the worst day try to remember my blessings...When I can hardly see due to the grimness of the day, the clouds part when I start counting the things I am grateful for. I actually come up with a good bit of them and then I realise that I am indeed blessed...Keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, your are not alone...We love You...God Bless and I will be praying for You...Love, Annie

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Annie TNBC Stage IIA Gr 3 1cm lesion 2/5 lymph nodes+ lumpectomy,FEC & D 30Rads finished(08/2009) BRCA- Chronic Cellulitis due to Radiation-- L.Mastectomy Jan 2012


Posted By: mainsailset
Date Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 11:45am
PeachPoodle,
   I would think you a strange person indeed if you weren't experiencing the dark after fears. It's the pits that's for sure. And it's pretty common to feel as if you have had the anchor lifted on your little ship of life and set adrift from the big strong hospital mother ship with no road map on how to reconnect with your old life and the assumptions we all had about the great things life held for us.
   I know I took the attitude that I would learn to recognize stressers and then develop ways to bypass them...when possible, haha! The ones that I couldn't bypass, I learned to address directly, when my boss or a client asked for me to jump into the snakepit for them, I learned to pipe up and say, you know, you're asking me to do something ....." When family asked me to choose sides in a family battle I said you guys are going to have to draw swords without me.
 
But the most helpful thing I've done is go hiking. And the more I feel stressed the more I enjoy planning the hike and then taking off to do it. My hikes last from 45 minutes to 3 hours, and they've brought me great joy and beauty and yes hopefully health.
 
When any and all of the above don't work, I also keep a nifty little antidepressent and a panic attack med by my bed. I just take half tablets cause I'm ornery, but I don't hesitate to do what I have to keep walking back to my old life. I know someday I just might get there!
 


-------------
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Jun 18 2013 at 3:15pm

Fat cells in breast may connect social stress to triple-negative breast cancer

Local chemical signals released by fat cells in the mammary gland appear to provide a crucial link between exposure to unrelenting social stressors early in life, and the subsequent development of breast cancer, researchers from the University of Chicago report in the July 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Some forms of stress exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of aggressive breast cancer. But the mechanisms linking the biology of social stress to cancer have been hard to identify. To unravel that mechanism, the researchers looked for differences between mice raised in small groups and those that grow up in an isolated setting—an established model of chronic stress without social supports.

"We found that exposure to the stress of social isolation leads to reprogramming of genes in fat cells in the mammary glands," said study author Suzanne Conzen, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "These fat cells then secrete substances that cause nearby pre-cancerous epithelial cells to proliferate more rapidly, accelerating the development of breast cancer. This local effect of fat cells in the breast was completely unanticipated."

The researchers used a genetically altered mouse model of "triple-negative" breast cancer—a form of the disease that lacks receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2, three important treatment targets in humans. Triple-negative cancer, representing about 15 percent of all breast cancers, appears to occur disproportionately in younger women. In this mouse model, animals develop precancerous changes in mammary epithelial cells that later lead to cancer.

The mice tested—known as SV40-T antigen mice—all develop tumors by about 16 weeks of age. The researchers previously showed that female mice raised in isolation develop significantly larger, more aggressive, triple negative tumors, and wanted to understand the detailed biology underlying this observation.

Conzen worked closely with colleague Martha McClintock, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, to carefully model chronic social stress exposure in female mice. In previous joint projects they showed that a measurable chronic stress response could reliably be induced in mice by raising them in isolation after weaning, rather than housing them in small groups.

In this study, Conzen also worked with colleague, Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and a specialist in fat cell biology, to decipher the effect of stress on the mammary fat.

"By separating fat cells in the breast from the other cell types, we were able to measure expression of genes involved in metabolism in those fat cells and not other fat cells or different cell types from the breast tissue," Brady said.

The researchers looked for differences in gene expression in multiple tissues and circulating hormones between group-housed and isolated mice. To their surprise, there were no significant differences in circulating hormones.

They found a dramatic change, however, in fat cells located within mammary glands. Measurements of those cells taken at 15 weeks of age showed that social isolation stimulated significant increases in the expression of three genes—Hk2 (hexokinase), Acly (ATP citrate lyase) and Acaca (acetyl-CoA carboxykase).

All three are crucial to the uptake and metabolism of glucose, the primary source of cellular energy. Mammary fat cells in the stressed mice took up about twice as much glucose as the same fat cells from unstressed mice, indicating a significant increase in metabolic activity.

These cells use glucose to synthesize lipids—fatty substances, often used to convey biological signals. Increased fat cell metabolism was associated with increased local secretion of substances such as leptin, an important chemical messenger produced by fat cells. Leptin can stimulate proliferation of epithelial cells within the mammary gland. Although leptin levels in the blood stream did not change, fat cells from isolated mice churned out three times as much leptin as the same cells from group-raised mice.

When premalignant epithelial cells from the tumors were exposed to the substances secreted by mammary-gland fat from isolated mice, they began to proliferate more rapidly, suggesting that the isolated animals' fat could secrete substances that boost tumor growth.

There is growing recognition that "fat cells secrete substances that act on neighboring cell types and that the particular location of the fat in the body matters," Conzen said, "These various fat 'depots' function with highly tissue-specific roles. Different types of fat tissues respond differently to stress, diet and exercise."

The changes in fat cell gene expression were most pronounced at 15 weeks of age, just before a tumor mass could be easily detected in the mice. At this point, the tumors were classified as "carcinoma in situ," a precursor to an invasive malignancy. When a biopsy reveals carcinoma in situ, women are typically encouraged to have a lumpectomy.

"Because the change in fat cell behavior precedes malignancy, there may be ways to intervene and thereby slow or prevent the development of a subsequent more serious breast cancer," Conzen said. "We could use drugs to block the production or secretion of the fat signals to proliferate. There may even be ways, including diet and exercise, to manipulate breast fat metabolism."

Why is breast fat particularly sensitive to the effects of social isolation? Scientists don't yet understand how this response fits into the larger picture of the deleterious effects of stress on an organism, but "it will be an important avenue to pursue, particularly when so much human disease appears to be negatively impacted by social stressors, diet, and other factors causing metabolic derangement," Conzen said.

The mammary glands in both mice and humans include many cell types, but fat cells, the authors note, are "arguably the most neglected and the least well understood component of the breast."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-06/uocm-fci061713.php" rel="nofollow - http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-06/uocm-fci061713.php



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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: Susie
Date Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 7:34am
So interesting...


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dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED


Posted By: mainsailset
Date Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 10:51am
Donna, that study does make it interesting to investigate the role of a mast for TN's if the fat cells in the mammary glands show a link?

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dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear


Posted By: arabella
Date Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 1:34pm
Donna,

So interesting to me as my husband died on July 1st and I was under stress and somewhat isolated and on following Jan. 1st, felt the small lump.  I know that from the reports I've read,  scientists seemed to be ruling out stress as a cause of cancer, but with my stress and isolation, I couldn't help but relate both to my cancer.   If they didn't cause it, just seems to me that stress and isolation helped it along.  

Thanks for posting.

Kaye


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Dx TNBC 1/2013; age 63; 1.1 cm; Stage 1, Grade 1(?); lumpectomy clear margins; ALND -; severe SEs to first TC and treatment stopped; radsX25; BRCA -
Recur 6/2015 Mastectomy


Posted By: annafriday
Date Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 3:00pm
Hello everyone.....I know stress played a role in my development of cancer.  In my research I found an article that discusses stress producing hormonal imbalance.  It may be that in tnbc induced by stress may benefit from androgen supression therapy, a male hormone. There is a clinical trial on this going on now.  

I have read and talked to many people with cancer and found  it can be very life transforming. It has lead many people to follow and find their true life path through this tradgedy. We can find healing in this and also help others from what we have learned.  

Anna


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DX:3/20/13 right breast multifocal stage 3a TNBC. Bilateral Mastectomy 4-18-13 largest tumor 6.2cm. 1 microscopic sentinal node positive. KI-67 77%. ACx4..doing Taxol now x12 weekly.


Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Oct 27 2016 at 9:06pm
Breakthrough Award supports research on role of chronic stress in breast cancer development

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey resident research member Wenwei Hu, PhD, has received a $596,250 Breakthrough Award (W81XWH-16-1-0358) from the U.S. Department of Defense through its Breast Cancer Research Program to study the role of chronic stress in breast cancer development. The focus of the work is to explore how chronic stress impacts breast cancer risk and to provide a foundation that can guide prevention strategies.

"Epidemiological studies have strongly suggested that chronic stress has significant negative influences on the onset, progression and mortality of breast cancers. For instance, disruption of marriage, extreme stress and low social support are related to increased  http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Breast-Cancer.aspx" rel="nofollow - risk of breast cancer . However, the role of chronic stress in breast cancer development remains elusive due to the lack of direct evidence from animal models. This lack of understanding hinders the development of effective and safe preventive strategies for breast cancer promoted by chronic stress," notes Dr. Hu, who is part of Rutgers Cancer Institute's Genome Instability and Cancer Genetics Research Program.

The research will closely examine the role of the p53 protein, which plays a central role in preventing cancer development. Loss of its tumor suppressor function has been shown to contribute greatly to cancer development. A recent study (PNAS, May, 2012) by Hu and colleagues demonstrated that a chronic stress condition tested in mouse models greatly decreased p53 function through the release of stress hormones known as glucocorticoids to promote tumor development. p53 maintains genome integrity and prevents DNA damage accumulation. Weakening of p53 by chronic stress leads to accumulation of DNA damage, which can promote the development of cancer. Using a well-established mouse model that mimics chronic stress in humans, this new study will test the hypothesis that chronic stress reduces p53 function through the release of glucocortioids and that the resulting increase in DNA damage promotes breast cancer development.

The study also will examine the protective effect of vitamin C and L-theanine - an amino acid found in tea - in breast cancer that is promoted by chronic stress, as these natural products have been found to decrease levels of glucocortioids. "Because some known breast cancer risk factors such as family history, atypical hyperplasia of the breast, late menopause and others are not modifiable, novel, safe and effective strategies for prevention of breast cancer are highly desirable," adds Hu, who is also an associate professor of radiation oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20161025/Breakthrough-Award-supports-research-on-role-of-chronic-stress-in-breast-cancer-development.aspx" rel="nofollow - http://www.news-medical.net/news/20161025/Breakthrough-Award-supports-research-on-role-of-chronic-stress-in-breast-cancer-development.aspx


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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15



Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Mar 16 2019 at 12:47pm
Breast cancer: Does stress fuel its spread?

New research in mouse models shows that stress hormones can help breast cancer grow, spread, and diversify, which makes it harder to treat.

. . . .Previous research that Medical News Today covered suggests that exposure to https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324540.php" rel="nofollow - chronic (long-term) stress is one factor that contributes to cancer cell growth in breast cancer.

Now, a new study conducted by a team from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland has uncovered further evidence to suggest that https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php" rel="nofollow - stress can fuel the spread of breast cancer tumors, perhaps also supporting their diversification.

The study — which the team carried out in a mouse model — found that stress hormones support breast cancer metastasis. The scientists also state that the stress hormone derivatives present in certain anti-inflammatory treatments could actually "disarm" https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158401.php" rel="nofollow - chemotherapy agents. . . .


. . . .The researchers note that in metastatic tumors, a type of receptor called "glucocorticoid receptors" were very active. These receptors bind to stress hormones, including cortisol.

Also, the team found that mice with metastases had higher levels of cortisol and another stress hormone, corticosterone, than rodents in which cancer had not yet spread.


The investigators also observed that when these stress hormones are highly present, they activate glucocorticoid receptors. This, they explain, triggers cancer cells' spread and supports their diversification.

Furthermore, Prof. Bentires-Alj and colleagues saw that glucocorticoid receptors also interact with synthetic derivatives of cortisol — for example, dexamethasone — which doctors use as anti-inflammatories to address some of chemotherapy's side effects.

This interaction, however, seems to interfere with some chemotherapeutic agents, neutralizing their effects. This is what happens with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, for instance; it becomes less effective in the presence of dexamethasone.

Based on these results, the scientists advise physicians to use caution in prescribing glucocorticoid hormones for the treatment of breast cancer, in case they end up doing more harm than good.

Prof. Bentires-Alj and team also explain that by the same token, inhibiting glucocorticoid receptors could be a helpful new approach in breast cancer treatment. "Tumor heterogeneity is a serious hurdle for therapy," explains Prof. Bentires-Alj.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324720.php" rel="nofollow - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324720.php



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DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15




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